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August 04, 2010

Goats!

Efficient. Affordable. Green. What's not to like?

Living on a nearly 45 degree hill as we do, the Editorial Staff found this of significant interest:

Recently, the patch of weeds behind Steve Holdaway's Chapel Hill, N.C., home grew so unkempt that he hired outside help. For six hours, the crew's members tackled tall grass and thorny blackberry plants and toiled without a break—other than to chew their cud, that is.

His workers: seven hungry—and carbon-emission-free—goats.
Goat-Powered Lawn Care

As more homeowners, businesses and towns seek to maintain land with fewer chemicals or fossil-fuel-powered machinery, a growing number are trying goats to get rid of unwanted vegetation. Internet rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. hired herds to clear around their Northern California headquarters this year. So did the Vanderbilt Mansion, a national historic site in Hyde Park, N.Y. And this April, nannies and billies were deployed at the U.S. Naval Base Kitsap Bangor in Silverdale, Wash., to annihilate pesky scotch broom plants.

While predators, poisonous plants and peeved neighbors can test goats on the job, the small livestock are well-suited for such labors.

Easy to manage, they relish prickly brush and weeds and their agility makes them "popular employees" for navigating steep slopes that can thwart humans and machines, says Brian Faris, president of the American Boer Goat Association in San Angelo, Texas.

It cost 55-year-old Mr. Holdaway $200 to clear a 1,700-square foot swath on his land with goats, pricier than the weed-whacking he's been doing himself for a decade with a gas-powered trimmer. "But like many organic practices, you are going to have to pay a premium sometimes," Mr. Holdaway says.

Livestock owners and towns plagued with brush fires or invasive species like kudzu have rendered goats' services for years. Now new interest among the eco-conscious is giving rise to a cottage industry of rental operations—since unlike lawn mowers, you can't just buy a goat and park it in the shed come wintertime. Some owners say business is so good, they're angling to license and expand with sheep, which do particularly well trimming grass.

Sounds like one o' them green industries the administration has been yammering on about. We sense a business opportunity for some enterprising conservative bloggress.

Posted by Cassandra at August 4, 2010 08:20 AM

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Comments

They've been using alpaca's in the PacNW area to deal with scotchbroom for almost a decade now. It's been quite a successful symbiotic relationship.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 4, 2010 09:32 AM

You know we've been looking for a new house with several acres of land, but I don't want to have to mow it. Maybe I need a herd of alpaca!

Posted by: Cassandra at August 4, 2010 09:41 AM

"... I don't want to have to mow it."

Yanno, they have this really great invention out, it's a cupholder with mower blades perfect for holding beer or any other fruity concoction the Blog Princess would wish to place in it.

Posted by: DL Sly at August 4, 2010 10:01 AM

Ah, how great a difference there is between the phrases "carbon-emission free" and "emission free"!

Posted by: Grim at August 4, 2010 10:26 AM

During my junior and senior year in HS, I took several trips to the mountains of western VA with a friend. Her family had a huge spread up in the hills with a small farmhouse on it and an old Jeep we used to explore.

I have some wonderful memories of summer hikes au naturale (hey, this *was* the 70s and those tan lines can be a real bear to get rid of!) through fields dotted with cows and other livestock but the cowpies were a definite biohazard :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 4, 2010 10:31 AM

But goats give off two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane. I'll take the stank of my evil lawn care devices over the natural smell of goat.

Posted by: crazy mike at August 4, 2010 10:42 AM

You don't have to be conservative--or liberal--to like the idea of a goat weed eating device. There are places here in the Southern California hills where upscale homeowners can choose between herds of illegal aliens with weed whackers for fire control brush clearance--or herds of goats.
Those people who will buy a Chevy Volt to install in their driveway as proof of their environmental "green" cards will use the goats. The goats are going to do boffo business in Malibu, Pacific Palisades and Santa Barbara/Montecito.

Posted by: Mike Myers at August 4, 2010 12:36 PM

Some owners say business is so good, they're angling to license and expand with sheep, which do particularly well trimming grass.

Sheep trim grass right to the roots unless they're kept moving. Protecting the flock from predators is only a small part of the shepherd's job -- the biggest part is to keep the sheep from turning the pasture into a brown and green checkerboard...

Posted by: BillT at August 4, 2010 01:23 PM

Goats are much better for this task than sheep, I suspect, but the sheep are probably cheaper for the sheep owner to maintain. The risk of an over-grazed lawn can be dealt with in the contract, which most people will sign without even reading.

Posted by: htom at August 4, 2010 01:36 PM

...but the sheep are probably cheaper for the sheep owner to maintain.

Have you priced anthrax shots, lately? Through the roof, lemme tell ya!

Posted by: BillT at August 4, 2010 01:43 PM

I've been mowing the lawn with the horses for years. I tell ya though it really makes you break out in a sweat. What with drinking cold beer, lying in a hammock, and all that. The napping is the tiring part.

Posted by: Allen at August 4, 2010 01:54 PM

No. My contact with actual livestock is rare these days; I think of domestic goats as more frail, needing more veterinarian care than sheep, and for either, I would have thought anthrax vaccine would have become downright cheap.

Posted by: htom at August 4, 2010 02:01 PM

I would have thought anthrax vaccine would have become downright cheap.

Nup. Now that they've finally tested it on humans -- about 100,000 of us, at last count -- the FDA decided the manufacturers can up the price.

Problem is, they haven't been able to find a manufacturer that can even meet Zimbabwean medical standards, let alone US ones. Although I expect that will change once HellCare kicks in...

Posted by: BillT at August 4, 2010 02:15 PM

Cassandra, skip the alpacas. They are, well, the ones I've dealt with make sheep look borderline intelligent and make Hereford cows look like geniuses. I'd go with sheep, then goats, unless you can find a hair goat so you can get milk, mowing, fleece and supper out of the beast. But I'm prejudiced against goats because of the damage they've done to parts of the world, even more than the "wooly locusts" that are unattended ovines.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at August 4, 2010 02:25 PM

Wasn't Professor Pile On an alpaca farmer for a time before he won the Nobel Prize? Maybe he could lend you a herd(?) of the critters.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 4, 2010 03:10 PM

We have goats. They're fun, too.

Posted by: John (Master of Inanity) Donovan at August 4, 2010 04:39 PM

We have goats.

That is why I linked to your lovely wife's site :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 4, 2010 05:03 PM

The USN at one time used goats to "mow" the weapons mounds IVO NAS Cecil Field FL. The fact that they didn't require sercurity clearances was a real plus.

Posted by: Punkindrublic at August 4, 2010 08:58 PM

OT Question for someone with a background in law...constitutional law.

If the National Guard of the several states is under the command of the Governor of the particular state (when not federalized), why can said Governor declare a state of emergency (or whatever mechanism is required) to call to duty those troops under their control.

They are called up for fires, floods, tornadoes, etc., etc. And it is painfully obvious that the invasion (for purposes of this discussion, it is an invasion) is at least as demanding of attention.

So why can't the Governor of AZ, NM, TX or even Ahhhhhnold make a move, take charge and defend their border? Is there something in the law that precludes it?

I am sure PeeBho would sue, but hey...Michelle needs to pay for those rooms at Marabella. Gotta be stylin' and profilin' with the European gangstas, and Marabella is where they hang with their homies.

kbob
just askin'

Posted by: kbob in katy at August 4, 2010 10:28 PM

that was why CAN'T the Governor...my typo

Posted by: kbob at August 4, 2010 10:33 PM

Goats!
Efficient. Affordable. Green. What's not to like?

Ummm...the fecal output?

Posted by: camojack at August 5, 2010 01:14 AM

Haven't Perry sent TXARNG to the border before?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 5, 2010 01:30 AM

So why can't the Governor of AZ, NM, TX or even Ahhhhhnold make a move, take charge and defend their border? Is there something in the law that precludes it?

They'll throw the Posse Comitatus Act at you, even though that only refers to *Federal* troops -- National Guard troops activated for federal service fall under 10 USC, while troops activated for state active duty (SAD) fall under a different code. Governors may activate troops under SAD for any number of reasons, to include providing direct support for LEA, which they *can't* do under 10 USC, or with Active Guard and Reserve who fall under 32 USC.

When I was in the Guard, we were activated to replace striking prison guards in Rahway (of "Scared Straight" fame), to support raids on druggie neighborhoods in Camden (murder capitol of the world for a few years), to conduct independent or coordinated search-and-rescue ops during floods, and to provide aerial observation for counter-narcotics ops -- all in a SAD status. When I went AGR under 32 USC, I was only authorized to monitor and perform as a liaison between LEA and the SAD troops.

If you're looking for precedent, NJ Guard troops in SAD status worked at Ground Zero and provided airport security at Newark, and bridge and tunnel security at *all* the crossings between New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Guard troops in SAD status already augment the border patrol in Arizona and New Mexico.

However, once the troops are in place, they're not immune to being activated under 10 USC, which would remove them from the governor's control, and SCOTUS has already ruled that a federal mobilization trumps state activation.

Posted by: BillT at August 5, 2010 02:00 AM

BTW, I don't have a background in Constitutional Law (and I don't play one on TV), but I *have* had classes from JAG on the can-do and can't-do aspects, and I had 37+ years of can-do and explaining to LEA folks the options for workarounds for the can't-do.

Miss L -- You're keeeee-reckt! Texas Guard folks provide aerial and ground surveillance in support of the border patrol folks.

Posted by: BillT at August 5, 2010 02:07 AM

During my junior and senior year in HS, I took several trips to the mountains of western VA with a friend. Her family had a huge spread up in the hills with a small farmhouse on it and an old Jeep we used to explore.
I have some wonderful memories of summer hikes au naturale

Ummmmm -- that place wouldn't have been on a mountain with a panoramic view that included West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina, near the Jefferson State Forest, just outside a little town called Sugar Grove, would it?

Not that I actually *remember* anything I may or may not have seen, except the cows were Guernseys...

Posted by: BillT at August 5, 2010 02:28 AM

Hmmm... where you driving a tractor down in the valley? We may have waved at you :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 5, 2010 10:06 AM

What happened to goat and kid bouncing?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 11:29 AM

Btw, has anyone noticed that on satellite photos, there's a remarkable difference between the orange shanty towns south of the border and the area north of the border? It's like a fine line. Up north, you have concrete and order. Down south you have no vegetation and dirt. It's like the border between Israel and Gaza.

Guess Mexicanization is pushing up north.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 11:32 AM

The Air Force lets local shepherds bring their flocks on base at RAF Croughton to graze on the antenna farm. Sheep can get closer to the guy lines than mowers. They've been doing this since at least the '80s, when I was going to school there...probably goes back further than that.

Posted by: salfter at August 5, 2010 11:58 AM

We may have waved at you

I wasn't in the valley.

Ever meet your friend's neighbors, Dave and Marta?

I used to visit Sib Two and his SO on *their* farm...

Posted by: BillT at August 5, 2010 03:01 PM

And goats can get to places that cup holders with lawn-mowing blades cannot. And they don't sue if they fall.

I know the state of California used them for a while to tackle some of the more treacherous parts of the hills along the 5 freeway a while back.

Posted by: HomefrontSix at August 5, 2010 03:27 PM

Not a lawyer. It might be that if a state had kept their Militia, forming their National Guard independent of that Militia, the governor of the state might be able to use the state's Militia for such. But most states don't have such a Militia at all, so probably not such an option.

Wasn't there, couldn't have seen anything. Which would be disappointing, other than that they weren't the only such sunbathers. We live in a great country.

Posted by: htom at August 5, 2010 05:43 PM

But most states don't have such a Militia at all, so probably not such an option.

The *organized* militia each state is required to have and Congress is responsible for equipping is the National Guard. NJ also has a small Naval Militia separate and distinct from the Army and Air Guards. They're volunteer in every sense of the word (they're unpaid for their drills), and they work with the Coasties -- NJ provides funding for maintenance and fuel for their boats, the Coasties support them with additional training when something pops.

But htom's right about most states *not* having a separate militia. It would have to be state-funded, since Congress can claim they're already paying for a state militia by funding the National Guard at federal level. And, since the defense "rightsizing" of the Clinton years (twelve divisions, Active and NG, vanished) and restructuring put half the Army's direct combat power into the Guard, most Guard units aren't properly equipped for a state emergency role that doesn't require the application of heavy firepower.

Although the BP would probably welcome a couple of battalions of mechanized infantry doing bounding overwatch along the high-speed invasion routes...

Posted by: BillT at August 6, 2010 03:36 AM

"And goats can get to places that cup holders with lawn-mowing blades cannot."

Yeah, but can they make the three-point empty beer can shot in the back of the truck while navigating the short turn by the drive-way at full throttle??
I thought not.
heh
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at August 6, 2010 09:09 AM

Japanese goat robots can tho, Sly

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 6, 2010 02:33 PM

Goats CAN help with the beer consumption - they love beer! (At least mine do!)

Posted by: Oh Hell at August 12, 2010 12:18 AM

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